Defending women's champion unseated

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— Utah ski jumper Jessica Jerome topped defending champion Lindsay Van on Friday to win the K90 national title.

It was Jerome's first title since 2003 and the first time Van has lost in her last four attempts at nationals. The K90 event wraps up the 2005 Chevrolet U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships at Howelsen Hill.

"We are pretty competitive, which is actually good because we are always pushing each other," Jerome said after the meet. "But we are really good friends, too. I'm happy for her when she wins, and she's happy for me when I win."

Van won the large-hill title Thursday, but Friday was Jerome's turn to shine.

Jerome led both rounds with efforts of 84.5 meters and 87 meters on Howelsen's K90 jump. Van jumped 78.5 meters on her first effort to give the advantage to Jerome. She stretched things out in the second round by soaring 86.5 meters, but it was not enough to regain the lead.

Jerome won with 204 points, Van was second with 191.5 points, and Alissa Johnson was third with 183 points.

After the event, Jerome said it was a nice way to end what's been a memorable season for women's ski jumping.

The women's Continental Cup Tour was recognized by the FIS for the first time this season. Van finished second in the Continental Cup standings, and Jerome was fifth.

"Everybody was psyched to have a real Continental Cup schedule with prize money," Jerome said. "After all these years, it's nice to see things finally starting for move forward in women's ski jumping."

Other women competing in this year's national championships included Karla Keck, Abby Hughes and Brenna Ellis. Five of the six ski jumpers are from the Intermountain Division, which is based in Utah.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot .com

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